Pubdate: Fri, 23 Jan 2015
Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AK)
Copyright: 2015 Fairbanks Publishing Company, Inc.
Author: Amanda Bohman


NORTH POLE - The City Council is divided over whether to allow 
marijuana to be sold here.

The panel agreed at a workshop on Thursday to deal with personal use 
of pot first.

"I think the first thing is public consumption, defining that, 
narrowing it down," North Pole Mayor Bryce Ward said.

The North Pole City Council is the first municipal lawmaking body in 
the Fairbanks North Star Borough to take up the issue of local 
marijuana regulation.

The panel held a workshop to discuss Councilwoman Sharron Hunter's 
proposal to ban the sale of marijuana in the Christmas-themed community.

The workshop was held for discussion purposes. No vote was made.

Starting Feb. 24, people 21 and older can have, grow, trade and 
transport limited amounts of marijuana. Pot sales are down the road 
after the state creates regulations. It is unlawful to consume 
marijuana in public.

Leaders in North Pole agreed for a need to define what is a public 
space so marijuana users will know where they are allowed to partake.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Holm suggested the definition of a public 
space include restaurants, waiting rooms, malls, education 
facilities, libraries, medical facilities, theaters, auditoriums and 
waiting rooms.

Holm is the chief opponent on the council of allowing marijuana to be 
sold in North Pole.

She said she is concerned about her child getting the impression that 
using pot is OK after seeing marijuana stores in the community.

Councilman Thomas McGhee, who argued in favor of inviting the 
marijuana industry to North Pole, said he's been going around asking 
people about it.

McGhee said he asks residents if they would mind if an empty bank on 
Santa Claus Lane, the main drag, became a marijuana dispensary. Most 
have been supportive of the idea, he said.

McGhee said there's a misleading stereotype of marijuana users 
propagated by the news media.

"The truth of the matter is it's the doctors, the teachers, the 
university educators, the lawyers. I know these people. They indulge."

McGhee said North Pole needs the tax revenues to deal with an 
increased demand on public services anticipated because of the new 
marijuana laws.

"I feel if we prohibit the retail sales within the city limits, we 
are cutting ourselves out of a share of the revenues," McGhee said.

North Pole Police Chief Steve Dutra said he is concerned about edible 
marijuana products, such as pot tarts, which are packaged to look 
like Pop-Tarts, getting into the hands of children.

Dutra recently attended a conference dealing with law enforcement and 
government issues since Colorado legalized marijuana.

"We have to urge our legislators to regulate these products," he 
said. "The kids will get them."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom